Letter to the Editor: In consideration of others

To the editor,

Although the San Luis Valley is far from any significant population center, current data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) clearly demonstrate that the SLV is not immune to the increasingly rapid spread of COVID-19.

It is now well known that this highly contagious coronavirus is transmissible via respiratory aerosols. Further, since by definition this is a novel virus, there exists no immunity in the host (i.e., human) population. Absent innate immunity and an effective vaccine, the virus will continue to spread exponentially throughout the host population as a basic and inevitable biological phenomenon limited only by transmission rate.

Therefore, effective management of public health is currently reliant entirely upon appropriate measures to mitigate transmission. Yet whenever we venture out from home for essentials we encounter far too many, including employees in retail establishments, who defy CDC recommendations rather than accept this societal responsibility.

It is indefensible that, at this late stage of a global pandemic, the only appropriate mitigation measures available for moderating viral transmission have been resisted by many as an absurd badge of political tribalism - to the very significant detriment of public health.

Recently it has been asserted by some that a governmental mandate of mitigation measures constitutes an infringement on personal liberty and is tantamount to tyranny. Although this is indeed a “free country,” as a society we have determined that our liberties are not without limit. Our right to assemble is not without limit; buildings have occupancy limits expressly in order to ensure the safety of those assembled within. We are not free to wander about without pants. We are not free to drive drunk or smoke cigarettes in public places. Simply put, our liberties do not extend to those actions having the potential to harm others, as expressed in the adage “Your right to swing your arms ends where my nose begins.”

It has been well established that the virus may be unknowingly transmitted by pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic carriers. Therefore, wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance, and limiting gatherings is not only about protecting oneself - it is equally about not endangering others. Importantly, these mitigation measures are only effective if everyone complies. A governmental mandate to adhere to CDC guidelines during a pandemic is not an infringement of our liberties. Rather, it is a minor shared inconvenience, and an act of collective patriotism in consideration of the welfare of our fellow citizens and the common good. And that shouldn’t require a mandate at all.

Brent Ybarrondo
Monte Vista